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Press Release - Senator Santorum Meets with Employees at Sewickley Valley Hospital

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Location: Sewickley, PA


Press Release - Senator Santorum Meets with Employees at Sewickley Valley Hospital

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today met with Sewickley Valley Hospital employees to provide a federal legislative update and take questions on issues currently facing the United States Senate. Sewickley Valley Hospital is part of the Heritage Valley Health System which includes the Medical Center in Beaver, Pennsylvania. Senator Santorum secured $300,000 for the Heritage Valley Health System in the Senate Fiscal Year 2007 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee this past summer.

"I want to thank Sewickley Valley Hospital for welcoming me here today to talk about issues important to western Pennsylvanians," said Senator Santorum. "I am glad Senator Specter and I could secure federal funding for the Heritage Valley Health System in the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill that passed through Committee and I will continue to fight for full Congressional approval of these funds."

"Heritage Valley is very grateful for the support Senator Santorum provides the healthcare community," said Norm Mitry, president and CEO of Heritage Valley Health System. "We appreciate his continued focus on important issues such as medical malpractice."

Senator Santorum also mentioned his work to alleviate one of the largest burdens on health care in our state - the medical liability crisis. In May 2006 Senator Santorum introduced legislation to ensure that women and babies have the access to care they deserve. The bill, S. 23 -- the Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies Access to Care Act -- would cap non-economic damages, thus reducing medical liability costs for providers and increasing access to medical care for patients. The bill will not limit recovery of any economic damages. The benefit for Pennsylvanians is that when the cost of liability insurance premiums goes down, patient access, quality health care, and affordability goes up.

"There is a medical liability crisis in America, but particularly here in the Commonwealth. Frivolous lawsuits have driven up medical liability insurance premiums, restricting and in some cases eliminating patients' access to quality healthcare - particularly obstetrical and gynecological services," said Senator Santorum. "This crisis has led many physicians to severely restrict the scope of their practices, and some have been forced to leave their practice entirely. These changes are having a direct impact on Pennsylvanians, dangerously limiting the access that Pennsylvania women have to the quality healthcare providers they need."

In just six years, from 1998 to 2004, the number of permanent full-time equivalent physicians has fallen from 36,500 to 32,000. This decline is largely due to the rising cost of medical liability insurance. Pennsylvania has one of the highest liability payouts per physician, at $16,000, compared to the national average of $5,000. It is estimated that by 2010, Pennsylvania could face a shortfall of nearly 10,000 physicians based upon current trends related to supply and demand.

Ob/Gyn providers have been among the hardest hit with skyrocketing medical liability insurance costs. According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Medical Colleges, only 28 percent of Ob/Gyn residents trained in Pennsylvania planned to stay and practice in Pennsylvania once they completed their residencies.

http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.View&ContentRecord_id=2088&Region_id=0&Issue_id=0

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